PDF/EPUB Tim Pears ✓ The Horseman The West Country Trilogy #1 ePUB Ù ✓

Somerset 1911 The forces of war are building across Europe but this pocket of England where the rhythms of lives are dictated by the seasons and the land remains untouched Albert Sercombe is a farmer on Lord Prideaux's estate and his eldest son Sid is underkeeper to the head gamekeeper His son Leo a talented rider grows up alongside the master's spirited daughter Charlotte a girl who shoots and rides much to the surprise of the locals In beautiful pastoral writing The Horseman tells the story of a family a community and the landscape they come from The Horseman is a return to the world invoked in Pears' first award winning extravagantly praised novel In the Place of Fallen Leaves It is the first book of a trilogy that will follow Leo away from the estate and into the First World War and beyond Exuisitely tenderly written this is immersive transporting historical fiction at its finest


10 thoughts on “The Horseman The West Country Trilogy #1

  1. says:

    Even for someone like me who loves uietly told stories of people and their daily sometimes mundane lives that I feel tell so much about the human spirit the first half of this book was a bit too uiet However beneath the methodical tending of the land and the animals mostly the horses there is the story of a family their way of life working hard on the estate of Lord Prideaux It's a hard life but one that provides food and shelter and a place for one's vocation in this world of divided classes in rural England in 1911 It took a little time to get used to the conversational language but detailed descriptions of the work in the fields breaking the horses and the game hunting beautifully depict the place and atmosphere Eleven year old Leopold is drawn to the horses that his father cares for and has natural instincts when it comes to caring for and training them It is apparent that this will be Leo's story The second half of the novel was satisfying as Leopold's friendship with the Charlotte daughter of Lord Prideaux's grows A perceived scandal in the end brilliantly sets the stage for what the next two books of this planned trilogy might look like This won't be for everyone with the slow story telling and as I mentioned I found it difficult in the beginning However now that I've finished it I'm looking forward to the next book to see where it brings young Leo I received an advanced copy of this book from Bloomsbury USA through NetGalley


  2. says:

    I loved this book but then I really like uiet contemplative reads The characters in this novel live close to the land and revere and value the animals that work and provide for them There is very little exciting action here until the very end where things escalate uickly Fortunately I have the second volume of this trilogy laying right here on my table ready to begin Warning to any readers who need strong plot and plenty of action This is not your book and you may be bored Tim Pears writes beautifully about the seasonal nature of farm work on an English croft in 1911 It's like a time machine putting you in that time and placeAnother plus for me I have a new favorite author This guy can write


  3. says:

    Set in 1911 1912 on the lands of Lord Prideaux in Somerset Tim Pears’s The Horseman follows the daily rounds of Leopold Sercombe son of Albert the estate’s respected carter For most of the book the author does not refer to Leo by name; he is simply “the boy” an almost archetypical figure of pastoral life keenly observant of the ways of nature and intuitive in his communication with non human creatures A reluctant twelve year old schoolboy whose hands feel the teacher’s switch often than any other student Leo is neither disobedient nor simple; his interests just lie elsewhere Peers taunt him for his oddness for preferring the company of animals especially horses over humans On the days that he does attend school he daydreams his attention absorbed by the swallows’ nest building activities on the other side of the window glass or the sound of an owl scrabbling in the chimney Afternoons he inevitably drifts back to his father’s farm one of six on the estate When we first meet Leo he stands on the sidelines observing his father uncle brothers and cousin as they go about their work in the fields Increasingly though he joins in on the labour His father an exacting man known to whip Leo’s older cousin Herbert for ploughing a less than straight furrow is surprisingly patient and forbearing with Leo never berating the boy for his truancy He recognizes and cultivates his son’s abilities and encourages his uncanny way with horses Spongelike Leo absorbs his father’s techniues with the animals No need for uestions; he learns by osmosis Albert would like to see Leo gain a place on the estate’s stud farm or in the master’s stables His training of the boy causes resentment in others however It intensifies the rancour between Albert and his brother Enoch the under carter on the estate and it angers his nephew Herbert who believes he is the rightful recipient of the trainingPears’s book is arranged in unnumbered chapters named for the months of the year There may be as many as five chapters in a row about the busiest month—all called “August” and as few as one chapter each for the months of late fall and winter when there’s less to be done on the farm Beginning in January 1911 and continuing into June 1912 each chapter presents a seasonal activity on the farm or wider estate In January 1911 Lord Prideaux’s partridge and pheasant shoot in which Leo serves as a cartridge boy is the focus Subseuent chapters take the reader through manure spreading turnip sowing Mrs Sercombe’s spring cleaning the birth of a foal the giddy spring turning out of the horses to pasture and so on Leo sees cart wheels being fashioned and horses being shod He leads horses to and from the mowing rakes the mown barley fields and begins to break and train horses One day while on an errand he meets the head groom of the estate’s stables Herb Shattock takes a shine to Leo and sometimes has him assist with the master’s horsesThroughout the novel Pears’s writing is unvarnished but fine North Devon dialect is used and biblical allusions are freuent Considerable attention is paid to the workings of such new farm machines as mowers and binders It is not uncommon for the author to linger over the intricate workings of cogs and rollers Implements used by the smith games keeper and carter are precisely named The Horseman sets the reader down in the now vanished world of rural England of than a hundred years ago where the rhythm and pace of working life were slower and dictated by the changing seasons and where the harshness and physicality of existence were directly experienced too Pears is especially strong at showing the complexity of the relationships between humans and domesticated animals Unlike most of us rural people then had daily contact with even deep attachments to the animals they would eventually eat Leo has difficulty with this It is “a mystery” his mother says that cared for animals should come to such an end but the Lord decreed it Still she adds Leo is right to ponder this strange and puzzling thing In a similar vein Leo’s father confesses he had to make a case to the gaffer boss about not being responsible for selling those horses he had watched being born and had personally worked withIn its attention to the cycle of the seasons and with its rustic characters not to mention a distressing scene involving a pig that rivals the one in Jude the Obscure The Horseman recalls the works of Hardy but it lacks the intricate plotting of the great Victorian novelist The narrative becomes most lively in the scenes where the master’s motherless headstrong daughter Charlotte appears Like Leo “Lottie” was born in the last year of the last century Spirited emotional and an expert horsewoman herself she is one of the few humans to actually piue his interest Though only a young girl with a small gun she performs admirably in the shoot described at the beginning of the book A little later she dresses in boy’s clothes and watches Leo from atop a fence as he trains a colt Lottie and Leo’s attraction to each other is natural sympathetic and uncomplicated by talk The first two thirds of Pears’s book move at a very slow pace—with nothing much of conseuence happening but that all changes very suddenly as the novel draws to a close In the final chapters uiet and until this point guileless Leo unwittingly provokes unanticipated dramatic upheaval in the Sercombe family No doubt the fall out from this event—the change it brings to Leo’s and his family’s fortunes—is to be explored in the next installment of a planned trilogySome years ago I was captivated by Pears’s debut In the Place of Fallen Leaves I later attempted his In a Land of Plenty but it didn't engage me A few months ago though my hopes were renewed when I learned that with The Horseman Pears would be returning to the pastoral setting of his first novel As it turns out this new book still couldn't uite take me back to the place of his first one I was occasionally frustrated by the slow pace the lengthy and sometimes tedious descriptions of farm work and euipment However once I recognized that the book was going to demand an adjustment in reading pace and mental effort than I’m used to applying to fiction I came to appreciate the book It grew on me and I find myself looking forward to discovering Leo’s fate in Pears’s next bookI’d recommend The Horseman to patient readers with an interest in rural life and England’s agricultural past Rating 35 rounded down to 3Many thanks to the publisher Bloomsbury USA and NetGalley for providing me with a digital text for review


  4. says:

    It took me a while to get into this book The writing is hard to explain Once you get to know the characters and the setting of the book it is uite beautiful It is 1911 in England Leo is the son of Albert Sercombe a farmer of Lord Prideaux's estate The descriptions of everyday life and how everybody works together on the estate is gorgeous without being wordy There are no spare words and that is what drew me in It almost has a dreamy uality Almost This is the first book in a trilogy Can't wait for the next one


  5. says:

    5 stars Seldom seldom do you come across a book that holds such simple and colored language to a specific place time station age In my youth mid century there were a plethora of these kinds of work books Ones in which the tasks of a physical life were told with the specific skill and also pure clear precision of a technical direction And also in the nuance of manners that cores a complex and ever widening circle of actions interactions to an entire eyes and worldview context There were many books that did that then Simple books about real men and women who worked When work was often something done everyday but also had 100's of different intricate or powerful movements Learned and often not instinctual movements But few of those earlier 20th century books also contained such sublime and superb prose Short sentences And emotion not explained but displayed And context not interpreted or judged in scales of morality but in context that is viewed And experienced Here it is within a 12 year old Leo's eyes Excellent Can't wait for the next one in the trilogy It's comingThis is not for those who like modern action and pretentious character bouts of lies competitions etc This is from a time of class divisions accepted and proclaimed And of identity through work and little else for those majority of the folks I have not read one this good in this category for a couple of decades And the ones I do remember were all in the present USA geographic area This one is English and yet uite similar in some regards The pig sticking day for instance Generational love expressed for survival No enabling Family unit as a ever tasking team Purposes clearly demanded and encapsulated by the material needs AlwaysTim Pears can write I'm in awe


  6. says:

    The Horseman was included in the longlist for The Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction 2018 The next book in the trilogy The Wanderers was on the 2019 longlist and the author made it three out of three when the final book in the trilogy The Redeemed made the shortlist for the 2020 prizeUnfolding month by month from January 1911 to June 1912 The Horseman charts the activities that take place on the farm and surrounding estate mowing the fields gathering the hay harvesting barley working the threshing machine All of these are labour intensive relying not just on human effort but horse power as well The horses are a valued part of the workforce needing meticulous care and attention Occasional diversions are choosing a piglet to be fattened a trip to the annual horse fair or the excitement of a new waggon making its ‘maiden voyage’Young Leo has little interest in the academic subjects taught at school He prefers observing nature listening to bird song watching hares play in the field seeing pigeons roosting or swallows building their nests He remarks how some creatures take little notice of his presence as if he is invisible to them “So each species of animal had its own peculiarities of vision This world we surveyed was not as it was but as it was seen in many different guises”Leo has a particular affinity with horses and a love of being around them “There was a smell of leather and saddle soap Plough strings cart saddles cobble trees and swingletrees each hung on wooden pegs in its allotted place These were icons of beauty to the boy” Initially he has little ambition beyond following in his father’s footsteps and learning everything he can from him about rearing and caring for horses However when Leo’s natural riding ability is noticed by the estate’s owner Lord Prideaux it seems to open up other possibilities “He knew that he would work with horses all his life but understood as he had not before that there were different ways and places to do so He doubted whether one life was long enough to know all there was to know of horses”Leo’s unlikely friendship with Charlotte daughter of Lord Prideaux is born out of a shared love of horses and the natural world However when an afternoon’s innocent pleasure is misinterpreted it has far reaching conseuences for Leo and his family setting his life on a completely different pathThere is some wonderful descriptive writing in the book such as this passage in which Leo walks before first light on a January morning “There was a frost on the ground the world was silent and new he perceived it being born out of the darkness around him The air was cold and clear There were skeins of most in the low fields that were like the breath of the land made visible like his own The last stars of the night sky disappeared above him into the pale blue” There is a great sense of place which has been likened to Thomas Hardy’s Wessex In fact the description of Bampton horse fair brought to mind The Mayor of CasterbridgeThe Horseman is a skilful evocation of life in a rural community in the years before the First World War and a homage to a lost way of life one governed by tradition and measured by the seasons of the year The fact the reader knows that life will soon be changed irrevocably gives it extra poignancy For example when Leo visits the ‘big house’ for the first time he marvels at the number of workers – gardeners coaches grooms stable boys – employed there Many of these would likely never return from the WarThe Horseman is a book to be savoured slowly allowing yourself to become immersed in the day to day life of a rural community I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the trilogy The Wanderers


  7. says:

    Currently in the early part of the book which is beautifully and meticulously written but a little slow The horse sections are well and accurately written but and this is only because I've had horses all my life there is a sense of studied information When Leo is left at the farrier blacksmith with a lame mare so that her foot can be checked out her father takes the other two horses that accompanied this mare back to the farm There's no mention of horses being separated and how they react doesn't ring true for me However it is evocative and there is a story on its way though it hasn't uite turned up yetWell a couple of weeks later I'm still on page 95 When I'm reading this book it's fine it or less holds my interest if I don't attempt to read for longer than about twenty minutes But once I put the thing down I just forget about ever picking it up again Beautifully written but oh so very slow and full of really absolutely nothing happening at all Not even characterisation In fact the characters are almost non existent Boy or is it Leo is just a human body moving about the countryside Deeply disappointing Will it get better? I may forget to find outIt does improve The writing is really beautiful but uite risky overall to start the novel so slowly I realise it is presenting a time when things really did move at that pace but tough on the reader Things get moving about half way through the novel and then I started to sink in and enjoy


  8. says:

    What a uiet yet powerful book It evokes such a powerful feeling of time and place The author does not make it easy for the reader I have limited experience with farm animals but Pears had me reaching for the dictionary freuently It was totally worth it though The turn of the century English Manor came alive as did Leo Thanks to Jeanette and Diane for your great reviews I wouldn’t have chosen this on my own So happy that I can jump into the second book right away


  9. says:

    A beautifully written novel reminiscent of Hardy I don’t want to say too much about it as I wouldn’t want to spoil it for anyone but I loved it Yes it’s slow in places but that’s where it’s beauty lies The ending is wonderfully written and I’m keen to read the next one in the trilogy


  10. says:

    This writing blew me away and I am so thankful that I spotted this on the shelf at the library It's one of those books that moves along with short chapters that are seemingly about nothing than small everyday occurrences in the like of Leo 12 who lives among the people who work the land and the animals on the farms of a giant estate in England 1911 where all life is tied to the seasons and the weather Definitely a show vs a tell book and I swear at times I could smellfeel the air and that I was right there in the fields with these people The book goes on at this pace until almost the very end when you get blindsidedhard I actually wanted to yellno It's the first book of a trilogy and I might perhaps die while waiting for the next oneOne note totally necessary for the book but a little difficult at first is the detailed language about horses farm euipment etc Just get past itit's worth it And also pretty graphic description of a pig slaughter but againit's what life was and wouldn't have been authentic without it